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Economic empowerment and rehabilitated basic services builds resilience in Dohuk

By Ezidi24

Between 2018-2019, UNDP Iraq supported an estimated 524,000 people to access improved basic services and more than 900 individuals to receive livelihood support in Dohuk.

“The most precious one is my mum” – a tribute to his mother who passed from Breast Cancer, this young boy was able to express himself with help from Khairy, a passionate barber, and a fellow IDP living in Sharia Camp for IDPs, just outside Duhok. “Barbering has always been my hobby, I started when I was a small boy,” explains Khairy, a Yazidi man, who fled his home in Sinjar in 2014.

Khairy, like many others, had struggled to find livelihood opportunities to support his 10 kids, while living in the camp. Previously he had accepted employment in a barbershop belonging to another IDP, but with little flexibility and restricted access to assets – due to camp restrictions, Khairy was often left without a wage to support his family.

Now, each day he opens to doors to his own barbershop inside the camp, with all the necessary equipment to master his craft. “When I have more income and more flexibility, I have many ideas to develop and expand my work and the shop,” he added. “I am always trying new things.”

Much like Khairy, Amira, a 23-year-old Yazidi woman, and Khalaf, a 40-year-old father of six, have both been residing in Sharia camp since 2014, when they fled the ISIL Occupation of Sinjar. Today, they both operate small mini-markets, selling cold drinks, sweets, toiletries and other basic goods inside the camps they call home.

Each of these businesses were established through an asset replacement programme, funded by the Government of Japan, and through UNDP Iraq’s partnership with Zakho Small Villages Projects (ZSVP). 150 beneficiaries – 70 of which are IDPs experiencing protracted displacement – were selected to receive asset grants that would enable them to open and operate small businesses of their choice.

“I live with my parents and three younger brothers, but I am the only one able to work,” explains Amira. “I was only in 9th grade when I had to leave Sinjar, and although I went on to study health in Duhok, I couldn’t find work as a nurse,” she added. Now that she is able to support her family – who often join her in the store to serve customers, she hopes to raise more money and expand the shop and the products she is able to sell.

On-going security crisis in Syria and many regions across Iraq – including Sinjar, continues to prevent the return of IDPs and refugees, whether concerned for the safety of their families or with such severe damage to their homes, that they have no access to suitable shelter.

Today, the governorate of Dohuk is still hosting more than 320,000 IDPs [1] and 88,262 Refugees [2] – both in-camp and living in various host communities. This not only requires the investment of government to provide access to basic services for a greater number of people, but it creates greater competition for shelter, food, water and jobs.

This is why, in addition to asset replacement, UNDP Iraq’s partnership with ZSVP also encompasses a job placement programme, placing 120 refugees, IDPs and host community members in sustainable jobs with a variety of private sector partners.

Bafreen (18), Danar (20) and Payman (23), were all recently selected to work with a local company, processing meat and meat products for delivery to stores across Dohuk and Erbil. A small factory, employing 12 people, the management welcomed the young workers to help with the preparation of products and the packaging of ready-to-sell kebab, tka and potata chap. “We have learned a lot from the other staff since we began working here,” explains Bafreen. “We like working in the food industry – and we like to eat the food which we prepare!” she continued.

Despite not having been able to finish high school, Danar is happy that he can now support his family and improve their quality of life, “Other than me, only my brother works in a store in Dohuk, but together we can support our parents and siblings to provide everything we need at home.”

But what is a business without access to electricity and water? In addition to its ongoing support for improved livelihoods in Dohuk, UNDP Iraq also works in collaboration with the Governorate of Dohuk to ensure that all the small, medium and large businesses operating each day, can do so without interruption.

“People were experiencing interruption to their flow of electricity before – people with workshops, small factories or shops, and now they can work more comfortably and have greater productivity, because of the more continuous supply of electricity,” explains Aubaidulla Sleman Taha, head of the Electricity Directorate in Shekhan District, Duhok. “Many transformers were overloaded and could not take the capacity of the power supply,” he added.

With funding from the Government of Germany, UNDP Iraq, in collaboration with the Governorate of Duhok have completed 12 infrastructure projects between 2018-2019, rehabilitating roads, sewerage, water, electricity networks, education, and environment, for improved access to services for an estimated 524,000 community members – including IDPs and Refugees. “Rehabilitation of infrastructure has multiple positive impacts, including supporting people who depend on these services for their livelihoods,” described Hazim Mohammed Uthman from the Planning department of the General Directorate of Electricity in Dohuk.

UNDP Iraq has led the early recovery and resilience agenda in Iraq since 2014/2015, using a holistic, integrated and community-driven approach to set the stage for full recovery, and to prevent further deterioration of post-crisis situations and rebuild peoples’ lives. Resting on the idea of “build back better”, UNDP Iraq’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme uses the opportunity of restoration and recovery to shape a sustainable environment and equip communities to better manage future crises through ensuring access to basic services, contributing to local economic recovery through livelihoods diversification, promoting civic engagement and increasing confidence in state institutions.

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